Category Archives: Nature

The Most Important Economist You Probably Have Never Heard About

Economists become famous by winning the Nobel Prize (technically the Swedish National Bank’s Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel) or becoming public intellectuals like John Kenneth Galbraith or Paul Krugman.  But economists do not have to be famous to be important.  Significant contributions come in many guises. The most important economist you […]

Was the Internet a Good Idea?

I remember clearly my first inkling of something new called the world wide web.  I had recently started using email and two colleagues brought me a U.S. Department of Agriculture publication describing a new information system.   One would be able to use a computer and software that would “crawl” about looking for information stored on […]

The Wilderness Ethic

In many faith communities it is common for adherents to sacrifice.  The Shakers embraced celibacy, though some might find that a flawed “business plan” for the endurance of the sect.  Catholics for years avoided eating meat on Fridays, a practice good for fish mongers. Likewise, many Jews and Muslims forsake pork in their diets.  Dietary […]

Wild Lands: The Missing Piece in Maine’s Land Conservation Mosaic

Mainers are proud of our forest heritage and we often claim to be the “most forested” state in the Union.  Those forest lands are best thought of as a mosaic of uses and ownership types. We have industrial forest lands owned by corporations, families, and various investment schemes like Real Estate Investment Trusts.  Some lands […]

When Dollars Meet the Grizzly Bear Spirit

When most people hear the word economics they think of money.  I remember visiting a local Maine historical society and the excitement the caretaker felt when he learned that I was an economist.  He immediately assumed that I would want to see their collection of 19th Century currency in circulation in Maine.  I did not. […]

What the Wessie Phenomenon Says About Our Attitudes Toward Nature

One of the fun stories from Maine this year to help take our minds off natural disasters, Presidential elections, and ill-behaved Olympic athletes is the tale of Wessie.  In case you have been living under a rock, Wessie is the affectionate name given to the large snake reported in the Presumpscot River in Westbrook.  Reported […]

I wanted to throw the phones into the ocean.

Thanksgiving morning we took our traditional hike in Acadia.  This year it was more of a walk – the Ocean Path from Sand Beach to Otter Cliffs to Otter Cove and back again.  It was a beautiful morning, bright sun shining and an ocean full of Common Eider Ducks and Grebes.  Thanksgivings were offered for […]

Open Season on Chickadees

It was an honor to give the Geddes Simpson Memorial Lecture at UMaine last week.  In the lecture I put forth the proposition that the State of Maine adopt an open firearms season on chickadees under which every holder of a hunting license could shoot an unlimited number of chickadees during the year.  After all, the […]

“Renewable” Energy – Powerful Words Make Us Do Stupid Things

The term “renewable” is now magical when applied to energy policy.  We understand intuitively that fossil fuels are fixed, not renewable.  Even if they are abundant now, every bit of coal, oil, or natural gas we use means there is less available, and their use causes a host of environmental and national security problems.  If […]